Climate change impacts on seabirds

Sitting Razorbill © Matt Parsons





















A new report card by the UK Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) was recently published that demonstrated the important effects climate change is having on UK seas and coastlines.  Among its report on biodiversity impacts, MCCIP  concluded that “UK seabirds face an uncertain future because of climate change and its potential interaction with other factors.” This and other conclusions were based on a detailed review of climate-change impacts on seabirds. The review was conducted by Francis Daunt at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, JNCC’s Ian Mitchell and Morten Frederiksen at Aarhus University, Denmark.  The review marks 10 years of collaboration between Ian, Morten and/or Francis since  the first MCCIP report card was published  in 2006.Further seabird reviews followed in 2010-11 and in 2013.

The 2017 review of climate impacts on seabirds concluded the following:

  • The seabird declines that commenced at the end of the last century have continued in the last decade.
  • Climate change is considered to be one of the main causes of the declines. The principal mechanism is the effect of climate warming on their food supply.
  • There is growing evidence that short-term weather conditions are having an important effect, including extreme weather events. Climate models are predicting further warming and increased severity and frequency of extreme weather events.

Over the last 10 years, we have learned it  is critically important to consider multiple drivers simultaneously, not in isolation, because the complex way in which they interact with climate may play a key role in determining the long term well-being of seabirds in the UK.